A few weeks ago I announced my plans to keep the girls home from daycare all summer and have Daddy Daycare. The closer and closer we get to June (I begin the second week of June), the more anxious I get.
Several months ago I said to my wife, "You know, Cana (our baby) doesn’t seem to have much of a personality. I think Talitha (our oldest) had more of a personality at her age than does Cana." Jessicah said to me, "Cana has a personality. You’re just not around to see it."
She was right. One of the side effects of my long commute into town for my residency was that I didn’t see much of our baby. I was often up and out of the house just as Cana was waking up, and within an hour of coming home Cana was going to sleep. I really missed out on lots of time with Cana – time to learn her rhythms, her cues, her cries, her laughs, her personality. I just didn’t get to know her too well over these past nine months.
Over the past few days I have really struggled with both of my girls. Last night I tried giving both girls baths while Mommy was out at church. Cana broke into a screaming fit that I couldn’t diagnose or soothe. I thought it was hunger or sleepiness. For twenty minutes I tried to feed her, rock her to sleep, and play with her – all while Tali sat in the bathtub playing and getting wrinkled by the bathwater. Nothing worked – Cana just continued to scream. Jess finally came home from her meeting and figured out immediately that Cana’s mouth hurt (teething). A little bit of Baby Oragel and Cana was playful and calm. Ugh. Short-tempered from struggling with Cana, I wasn’t in my best mood when trying to put Tali down to sleep. After a few minutes she was crying for Mommy.
If you’re keeping score, that was an 0-2 night for Daddy, with a few errors.
Tonight I needed to spend about 30 minutes one-on-one with Cana to get her to sleep, all the while leaving Tali alone to watch a DVD downstairs. Cana went to sleep with much less screaming than the previous night, but it still wasn’t easy. And 30+ minutes in front of the TV is not exactly the way I’d like Tali to experience nights with Daddy . . .
I’ll get the hang of this, I’m sure. Despite my anxiety, I can’t wait for Daddy Daycare. When else will I ever be able to spend all summer with my girls? But today I’m a bit disheartened. Taking care of two girls under the age of 4 is not easy – particularly for a Daddy who is not used to their daily ebbs and flows.
And I’m not able right now to make the leap from my frustration and struggles to the role of Fathers in our society or to any insightful reflection on the Meaning of all this. No. I’m not there right now. This experience isn’t sermon fodder for me yet. It’s still life – murky, confusing, raw life.
I want to do good by my girls, and I’m sure I will. But what began with an unending flow of enthusiasm is quickly morphing into a combination of awe, humility, fear, excitement, joy and perplexity. Watching the girls all summer will indeed be a blessing, but wow – it will be a challenge, too.